Michael Dell to relinquish CEO title, command of ‘brain’

President Rollins grabs the motor functions

Michael Dell plans to step down as Dell CEO in July and hand over the reins of the company he founded to current president Kevin Rollins.

Dell will retain the title of Chairman, while Rollins will become president and CEO of the PC, server and storage maker. Dell and Rollins have run the company together since 1997 in a two-in-a-box management style. Their partnership has produced an endless stream of color pieces, describing how they share an office, share decision making and sometimes even share a brain:

"[They're] kind of the left and right sides of the same brain," observed Crawford DelPrett, senior VP at analyst firm IDC, which is a metaphor with all kinds of unintended consequences.

With Rollins now presumably in full command of the motor functions, he gets to move Mike's arms and legs.

Dell corporate PR said the move "is consistent with current primary roles." Dell largely focuses on technology trends, while Rollins handles day-to-day operations and strategy. Dell also heads up the company's research and development efforts, which leaves him with a fair bit of spare time to spend gazing into the future.

Dell has often been credited with bringing in a strong supporting cast to help him run a company that has enjoyed phenomenal growth. Rollins is a prime example of these moves, as he joined Dell in 1996 after working as a vice president and partner of consulting firm Bain.

The move to split the CEO and Chairman roles could be seen as an olive branch to corporate governance watchers. Many pundits have called for companies to divide these responsibilities.

Rollins will officially take on the CEO title at a shareholders meeting on July 16. He will also be nominated for election to the Dell board at that time. ®

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